China coal: 54 open pit coal mines resume production in Inner Mongolia

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has announced it will add 25 million tonnes of coal output by resuming operations at 16 open-pit mines in the Ordos region in Inner Mongolia.

The total of known coal mines to have been opened or recommissioned by the Chinese Government in Inner Mongolia during the past two months now stands at 54. The NDRC announced 38 new coal mine approvals in July.

“In order to accelerate the release of advanced coal production capacity, relevant state departments and Inner Mongolia autonomous region actively promote the continuous land use of open-pit coal mines and resume normal production as soon as possible,” said the Commission on Wednesday.

“Following the approval of more than 20 mines last month, another 16 open-pit coal mines in Ordos have recently obtained approval for the continued land use, with a production capacity of about 25 million tonnes per year.

“More open-pit mines with a total capacity around 50 million tonnes per year will gradually obtain the approval in mid-September. After all these mines resume normal production, the monthly output will increase by over 7 million tonnes.”

Safeguarding Chinese coal supply

In July, Chinese state media reported 10 million tonnes of coal was being released to “safeguard energy supply”.

The stock piles were being stored at reserve bases and ports. China has the capacity to store up to 100 million tonnes of coal at storage facilities across the country.

Currently those facilities are at around 40% capacity.

43 new coal-fired power plants on the horizon

A new report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air and the U.S. group Global Energy Monitor claims the Chinese Government has announced plans to build 43 new coal-fired power plants so far this year.

“If approved and built, they will emit an estimated 150 million tonnes of CO2 a year,” the report states.

China coal
Source: Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, U.S. group Global Energy Monitor: August 2021 briefing

The report claims 15 gigawatts of new coal power capacity commenced construction in the first half of the year and 24 gigawatts of new projects have been announced or re-activated, led by coal-rich western provinces hoping to export electricity to the east.

“The volume of new projects represents a return to pre-COVID levels after new projects surged in 2020 but still amounts to almost one coal plant unit per week.”

Surging global demand for coal has seen the coal price rise above $US150 per metric tonne this month, up more than 100% over the past year.

Related: Asia Markets expert insight – the beginning of the end for coal in Asia.